Sunday Telegraph, Graham Chase: “For a while there was a sanctuary for John Terry as revelations about his private life were ignored amid headers and clearances, and he came up with a winner to move Chelsea four points clear at the top of the table.”
The Observer, Paul Wilson: “Terry went about his business here as if nothing had happened, which took some doing, even for someone with a reputation for playing away. Facing down his detractors with an expression of stone, Terry endured the boos and kept Burnley’s attack at bay before getting forward at the end to rescue his attack. The Burnley crowd did not hurl anything particularly witty or vindictive at the England captain in any case, and as Alastair Campbell turned up at half-time for a presentation Terry may not even have been the most unpopular person on the pitch.”
Sunday Times, Jonathan Northcroft: “It seemed entirely predictable under sport’s perverse laws that if some participant was to be the victory-bringer, it would be Chelsea’s disgraced captain, but it also seemed fairly irrelevant. In scoring — with a firm downward header from 10 yards, when Frank Lampard played in an 82nd-minute corner and Burnley’s defenders left him inexplicably unmarked — Terry confirmed that he is a competitor of strong character. Unfortunately, he is also an individual with a flimsy one — as the latest headlines about his pecadillos attest.”
Independent on Sunday, Steve Tongue: “Flawed character he may be, but for all the unwanted publicity down the years surrounding him and his ill-starred family, John Terry has never allowed his football to be affected. Apparently oblivious to all the fuss that followed the latest unsavoury allegations about his private life, he not only strolled through yesterday’s game but even had the audacity and sense of drama to win it for Chelsea with a powerful late header.”
Official Chelsea FC Website: “It was a typically strong-minded contribution from the captain on a weekend when his private life is featured heavily in the press and was the result of a Chelsea performance that improved once Burnley had been allowed to equalise, Joe Cole having a ‘goal’ ruled out for a debatable offside before Terry’s winner.”
Mrs ChelseaTony is away this weekend, celebrating her dad’s birthday. I therefore thought it would be a weekend of beer, porn, football, takeaways, DVD concerts and golf. Well, the diktat to ‘fix the shower before it ends up falling through the floor by the time I get home’ put paid to most of that. I’ll leave it to you discerning readers to decide which was jettisoned and which was salvaged.
The other distraction was of course the unfolding media and tabloid frenzy surrounding the story of John Terry’s unswerving ability to point a bloody rocket launcher at his feet and fire. First we had the Manchester City will he/won’t he debacle. Then the uncomfortable email hawking of his England captaincy for sponsorship deals. Then brown paper bags exchanging hands for unofficial tours of Cobham, allegedly to be given straight to charity. Add to this the unsavoury stories of shoplifting and drug dealing parents and one can’t help wondering whether there really can be this much smoke without a fire somewhere. So, has he learnt any lessons? It would appear not, because he then stupidly takes out one of the heinous super injunctions in order to stop details of a sleazy affair with a team mate’s ex-girlfriend. There is an old saying ‘Publish and be damned’, advice he might well have heeded instead of twisting the Fleet Street Lion’s tail thus enraging it and motivating them to whisk up more faux outrage and a witch hunt with all the momentum to make the pathetic Ross/Brand non-story seem like nothing more than a national raised disapproving eyebrow.
He was of course, wrong. Wrong to do it, wrong to get caught and wrong to try and cover it up. But affairs are hardly earth shattering news stories in the 21st century, just as they weren’t in the latter liberated part of the 20th century. George Best was an inveterate drunk and serial womaniser, but most people forgave those foibles in favour of his awesome and precocious talent. And then we look at Stan Bowles (gambler extraordinaire), Justin Fashanu (allegedly reduced to being a rent boy through football’s rampant homophobia), Paul Merson (a drunk), Paul McGrath (another drinker) and Stan Collymore (dogger, manic depressive and alleged woman beater). Football, as with music, TV and cinema, takes young people, pays them huge amounts of money, builds them to be heroes with lavish lifestyles way beyond what most of us can imagine. The media plays their part and expects them to don a dog collar and act like Mother Theresa, consequently delighting in then dismantling these stars under the pre-text of national outrage by proxy. The ‘working classes’ are then polled in order to display this apparent national outrage in order to get a resignation or sacking which perpetuates yet more controversy and faux outrage. Of course England captains are special, unlike say Chelsea captains for example who presumably the press would expect to be morality free zones.
Of course all previous England captains have been role models haven’t they? Paradigms of high morality and flawless principle? Let’s look at a few then shall we? Let’s start with Bobby Moore… a string of failed businesses, a burnt down pub, shady links to East End gangsters and an alleged ludicrous trumped theft charge, all of which whilst never confirmed left a slight whiff around the great man which pretty much shafted his career within football and saw him reduced to radio punditry. Kevin Keegan then? Yes, the self same Keegan who in front of 80,000 Wembley punters ended up in a full on fist fight with Billy Bremner. Twice. Brian Robson then, Captain Marvel himself. Of course his alleged re-fuelling habits were purported to have outdone Gazza by some distance. Tony Adams, a great England captain but dogged by alcoholism and even a prison sentence. David Beckham had a much publicised fling with z-lister Rebecca Loos. Go to other sports with arguably more Corinthian values than football, such as cricket. Ian Botham anyone? Andrew Flintoff anyone? Still if the FA or Capello stupidly succumb to the media cries for JT’s head they can always opt for Rio… oops, forgot about the drugs thing. Ok, Steven Gerrard then… oh yeah, the violent nightclub thug… oops. Wayne Rooney then? Oh sorry, forgot about the smoking pictures… oh and the pension drawing hookers. Still there’s always Frank Lampard.
I trust Capello will be given full autonomy over any decision and if he’s as good at man management and seeing the big picture as everyone thinks then I reckon he’ll err on the side of common sense.
I guess my point is that no-one is perfect no matter what their public image projection is. Men will always be ruled by their second and arguably more powerful penis-brain. And women will always fall for money over charm, intellect and integrity. Vanessa Perroncell is actively hawking her story to the tabs as I write. Proof, if it were needed that she must be devastated by the whole thing. John Terry is a fool. But can any of us hold up our hands and say we’ve lived such pious and reverential lives, never having done anything illegal or morally dubious? Infidelity is a very human condition and long after we’ve all shuffled off this mortal coil footballers, actors, barmen, waitresses, police officers, judges, barristers, bin men, traffic wardens and even priests will continue to play away from home. And of course the media will always play their part by deciding that this is a controversy, and hence by reporting it they then feed the controversy, which then allows them to report on the controversy growing by the hour (copyright Charlie Brooker). It’s a self fulfilling news story and it’s a very sad mad world in which the national moral compass is decided by rags such as the News of the World or any Murdoch organ, or the vile Daily Mail.
Well, all of the previous seems to have hijacked the achievement of winning a potentially tricky tie. But here goes…
No major surprises on the team front, with Carlo opting to keep the under fire John Terry in the team, a good move overall, for his own sanity but also because as fate would decide, he also won the game for us. Deco was left on the bench after a stunning role as Le Volant on Wednesday against in form Birmingham. Instead he opted to start the impressive Zhirkov out on the left with Joe Cole on the right, and Anelka doing basically whatever his ‘Esprit de France’ wanted. Tactics, schmactics, formations etc… if you’re lit up by these then feel free to wander over the to BBC or The Grauniad (sic) where you can join in the communal jizz-fest of formations with other like minded individuals.
Burnley are a bright light in the Premiership with a good home record, but like so many other newly promoted clubs an abysmal away record. The recent loss of the impressive Owen Coyle to rivals and neighbours Bolton still stings, and the slightly odd appointment of Brian Laws may well yet seal their fate. I have fond memories of Burnley from the late 60’s and early 70’s especially the true comb over king, Ralph Coates. I hear good things about the pies on sale at Turf Moor, which when compared to the dog meat disasters dished up at Stamford Bridge must be something delightful for the original Claret and Blue faithful.
We started brightly again which seems an increasingly familiar and welcome trend in my view. First half possession must have been frighteningly in our favour although a weird air shot miss by Anelka was the only stand out moment until the goal. Yes, it was pretty, and yes it was good to watch, but the attempts stats after 35 minutes of two to us and one to Burnley showed that actually nothing much happened. The goal itself was marvellous. A super throw out clearance by Cech found a lively Joe Cole who delivered a lovely cross to an improving Malouda to pass back to Anelka who slotted home comfortably. From keeper to goal in 11 seconds, marvellous. More please Mr Cech. Still we had a lead at half time and despite a minor slip by Alex all of the players had turned in a decent shift. It had the hallmarks of a goal fest for the second half with the gulf in class between the sides being as glaringly obvious as a festering boil on the delightful face of my favourite newsreader de jour, Susanna Reid.
So, imagine the mystified silence from every Chelsea fan when three minutes after the restart, Burnley had the temerity to equalise! It was just about their first attempt on target but despite a hint of handball, a great finish leaving Cech no chance. Alex did cock up as well though, and he won’t be happy with his part in the goal. Apparently he just ran off the pitch at the end refusing to acknowledge the away fans. A sulk? An injury? I’d like to know why he reacted like this at the final whistle when every other player did their bit. I hope it was injury really because he really had quite a good game despite the error. Let’s face it Carvalho did similar cock ups against Birmingham twice but got away with his errors. From that slight shock we then woke up. Again, tons of possession but this time creating far more chances than in the first half. Burnley were run ragged and when the winner came the only surprise was that we weren’t already two or three in front already. And yet, the game seemed devoid of passion. The perceived increasing apathy of the crowd seemed to drain the game of any real passion, although that’s my perception, no doubt fed by the ESPN growing boredom from the usually excellent John Champion commentating.
And so, as alluded to earlier, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Even if he has cometh in the wrong places lately. John Terry pops up with nine minutes to go with a powered header from 10 yards out. A muted celebration said more than enough about his state of mind, and the reaction from the team seemed to indicate that unity is a key part of the current form. I didn’t see any evidence of an undermined team spirit as the other players clamoured to congratulate their captain. From that point on it was game over. A potentially tricky game had been deservedly won. I just hope Carlo doesn’t win the dreaded Manager of the Month award!
So, overall, as someone described on the immediate post match comments, this was indeed an almost Mourinho-esque display, which might go someway to why it’ll be described as a professional and competent display rather than a passionate thriller. Like many others I rather like seeing teams like Burnley invert the commonly held belief that only money can ensure survival at the top table of the Premiership, and on the day they acquitted themselves well but just didn’t have the class. As for us, competent displays all around with no disappointments anywhere mean that choosing the Man of the Match will be tricky. But I’ll stir the pot and select one anyway.
- Branislav Ivanovic. Reassuringly reliable and hard working. An unsung class act that for me is possibly the best right-back on show anywhere.
- John Terry. Enough said about foolhardy stereotypically male behaviour. Putting yourself out there on public display and turning in a good performance took guts.
- The performance. Always a chance of a Wigan repeat here, but unlike our two main rivals we didn’t choke.
- Yuri Zhirkhov. Gives Carlo yet another selection headache but yes, he does look the real deal.
- Alex and Anelka. I reads Habs’ comments and watched the game last night with the benefit of the replay and pause facility. Alex made one howler for the goal but other than that was rock steady and Anelka was no more than a tad below the usual high standard.
- Petr Cech, for once looked commanding in the area and finally seems to have mastered the throw out as opposed to the mindless hoof. The clearance for the goal was phenomenal.
- Joe Cole. Patently still short of being a 90 minute player but improving every game and superb assist for first goal. We’d be mad to let him go.
- Ray Wilkins. A pre match interview where he was quite brilliant in his answers and refusal to be baited on the JT affair. At times he looked as menacing as Grant Mitchell. Well done Ray, there’s no doubting your allegiance and commitment to team spirit.
- The John Terry stuff, of which I’m as guilty of propagating in this article. But I’m a fan and admirer of our man, plus Chelsea is in my soul. The rest is just sensationalist cobblers designed to shift print.
- That’s it really. Burnley were hard working and committed but we were more so.
This is rare. In my opinion everyone was pretty much the same yesterday, somewhere in the 7 or 8 from 10 category, with slight increases for Joe Cole, John Terry and Branners. Why is this rare? Simply because when 11 men are on the field it’s easy to see the X’s as we categorise them at work (exceeded all objectives) or the P’s (poor performance), but in this case I would have to give everyone the G grade (good overall performance), with the three aforementioned players being classed as strong G’s. That and the fact that I’m knackered, aching and still faced with completing this bathroom project before Dragon Control returns mean I just can’t be arsed.
Manager rating – 9/10 – has regained that golden touch and I am now warming to him. I loved his reaction to the question of whether he’d be in front of the TV for the Arsenal/United game.
“Yes, of course because if I’m behind it the game is impossible to see.”
Football manager with sense of humour shock is never going to make a headline though is it?
Overall team performance – 8/10 – professional, competent, tidy and most of all consistent. Just like the good old days.
Man of the Match
John Terry was brave and scored a corking winner BUT was he any better than normal? Maybe a little, but for me, yet again the player who was flawless yesterday and is quietly becoming one of our untouchables is Branislav Ivanovic.
I’m watching Sunday Supplement as I finish this post off and am refreshed that what I expected to be a John Terry lynching has in fact turned out to be a well reasoned rational discussion with all three guest journos backing JT to stay as England captain. I’m also in the Habs camp on questioning the level of the crime here. Wayne Bridge wasn’t with this woman when JT decided to share the Terry baby gravy with Vanessa Perroncell. So where is the crime. As Clive also stated, Ashely Cole’s passable impression of Jenson Button in a 50 mph zone was potentially the more serious misdemeanour. If he’d killed or injured someone then these days a prison sentence can follow. Just ask Lee Hughes.
Back to football matters though and apologies for the Terry bias on this post. We look bloody good at the moment and even a hardened pessimist like me can see little wrong. At the risk of homogenisation of the team, we have an overall consistency throughout the squad which means there aren’t any really weak areas on the pitch. As a team manager at work that sort of thing is a joy to manage. And Carlo looks like a man enjoying every aspect of our beloved club. This win means a relaxing Sunday (bathrooms aside) with a decent warm up game for Pompey and Citeh, followed by the big game at The Emirates. Let’s hope for a result whereby they kick 10 bells of shit out of each other for a 0-0 draw.
Hull on Tuesday gives us a good chance to put some clear blue sky between us and the loathsome Mancs and Arsene’s Newborns.
Keep the Blue Flag Flying High!
- Reaction: Professional focus
- Fabio Capello has a very big decision to make on John Terry’s captaincy future
- John Terry faces career and marriage crisis over affair revelations